My brain has been popping with random bits and bytes over the past few days. I have also been stuck in front of the keyboard A L0T. So this may come out as more of a rant than intended, just think of me as channeling Andy Rooney.
If we are to live in a world that is flatter, more expansive and more loosely joined - we can do better. We have to, or all we will end up with is a lot of noise.
Monday morning, en route to catch a pre-dawn flight to Cincinnati, as I hovered between coffee induced alertness and the fog of sleep deprivation, it dawned on me that a great metaphor for old marketing versus new relationship economy communication is the death of the "Grand Gesture".
You know what I mean; the Grand Gesture is represented by the roses you send on Valentines Day or the present you buy on holidays or anniversaries to make up for all the times you did not hold your weight in a relationship. We have all been either on the giving or receiving end of such gestures and we know that they don't make up for consistent listening and support. The mark of a deep relationship is being there consistently - even when it is not convenient. It is often about putting the other person first.
The Grand Gesture is all about the "gesturer" and not at all about the receiver. The "gesturer" is thinking only about themselves, is being reactive and hoping it makes up for lack of attention or a big mistake. Well, the truth is, it never really does.
The company equivalent of the Grand Gesture can take many forms - a major press announcement or briefing, a product/feature launch, a special price break or an insufficient rebate when there has been a screw-up. Those are all well and good but if they are not backed up with taking out the trash at 2am, staying up late when I am sick and listening to me bitch late at night - well then those grand gestures don't add up to much. It is the small consistent gestures that are often inconvenient that make up the core of a trusted relationship.
Companies need to understand that punctuating bad behavior with the occasional grand gesture just is not going to cut it anymore. We demand more.
That's why I am really excited to participate in Satisfaction's upcoming Customer Service is the New Marketing" conference. The gang at Satisfaction understand that the future is about consistency and respect and "grand gestures" can't make up for consistently great customer service. They have assembled a great group of experts on community and customer service --folks who really live the mantra of putting the customer first.
I'll be leading a round table on the important first step - the cultural shift required to succeed in the relationship economy.
If you are interested in attending I've got a special 25% discount for
anyone I send along. So register here or enter the PANL discount code when registering. I look forward to seeing you there.
[check out Paulo's other photos on flickr]
As the pundits, brands and geeks all gush on Facebook's SocialAds, Beacon and the future of advertising:
I once again remind you.
Stop thinking like hunters. Getting my friends to hunt for you is still being a hunter. If you are lucky I will come running. Or you can look at it this way.
John Quelch turns the relationship between customer and company on its head in this article on the HBR blog. If we believe that we --the individual-- now have more power and control in the relationship we better behave accordingly.
99% of marketing focuses on how to sell to customers. Very little attention is paid to why and how customers should sell themselves to marketers.
He outlines five good customer behaviors (read the article for deets)
- Be Demanding
- Be Respectful
- Be Reliable
- Be Surprising
- Be Engaging
I would add one more bullet to John's great list:
Nod to Vaspers for pointing me to this article. Make sure to read his two great posts that highlight the difference between Social Media and Social Networks and the Seven rules of Social Media. Great stuff, I really love this guys blog.
[Photo credit - Mrs Newingham's third graders and their great blog]
I see this. Satchi's new campaign entitled: One Word Equity.
Now I pride myself on being a bridge builder and translator, so I am usual empathetic. Heck, I am out there trying to educate how the new world operates, but I had just one reaction to this (probably emboldened by spending the weekend with folks who "get-it"). I do indeed believe that branding is more important than ever [iphone anyone!], But, I mean---
Are you people nuts?!! THIS is what you come up with?
WARNING: short burst of RANT ahead [to be followed by rational thinking when I cool down}
I am still fuming and must tear myself away from keyboard to do some work. Read Brian and Umair's detailed observations & rational thoughts till I return. I pity anyone on the highway driving slow in front of me in the fast lane today.
Listening to Seth Godin at PDF Conference on Friday, I was reminded again how good he is at cutting to the heart of the issue with great metaphors and images. In Seth's words: "Don't be a hunter, be a farmer."
Old marketers behave as hunters with their sights on unsuspecting me.
New marketers behave as farmers, focusing on sustainability, feeding, attention and care.
I don't like feeling like I have a bulls eye on my back - do you?
Photo originally uploaded by Gare and Kitty.
In my current role as a evangelist and rabble rouser in the new Relationship Economy [thanks to the brilliant Jerry & Doc this is my new chosen term to describe the impact all this social media stuff is having on our world], I am often frustrated when the conversation turns to technology solutions. As Jerry describes the Relationship Economy:
Transactions are the by-products of healthy relationships.
The global economy is shifting from a mass media, consumer mass-marketing model to one that is far more emergent and decentralized. The involuntary loyalty of "sticky" services is falling victim to the far preferable voluntary loyalty won through responsiveness, quality, excellent service, reliability and trustworthiness.
Sometimes, transactions don't matter.
Questions like "Should I start a blog?" Do I need a wiki? can you make this viral? What kind of video should I put on Youtube and how should I tag it - are the WRONG questions. This is basic "can't see the forest for the trees" stuff. Don't worry about the technology, worry about how to engage your customers (hint: try introducing the word "I"], andm ake products people really care about. Anil has a recent post on sustainability that is good reading, here is a relevant snip:
This refrain never goes away, but it bears repeating. Those of us who love technology and believe in its potential owe it to our communities, our audiences, and our customers to make our efforts sustainable and accountable. I'm not an unabashed, uncritical capitalist, but I do recognize that one of the most positive effects that a classic charge-a-fair-market-value-for-your-goods business model offers is the opportunity to create an accountable and sustainable relationship with a customer.
This is not a technology solution, this is a corporate strategy shift. A relationship is not about a blog, a wiki or a video - it is an attitude and a commitment. First determine what kind of relationship you want with your customers then worry about the technology to get you there.
Bonus Link: This is the URL that got me started on this post and reminded me that creativity does indeed trump technology. And look - it's now viral.
Attribution: thanks to Josef Steufer for his gorgeous photo